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Pakistan expects GDP growth to slow to 5% amid fiscal consolidation

·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: A man reads newspaper while selling betel leaves, cigarettes and candies from a shop in Karachi

By Asif Shahzad

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan GDP growth will slow to 5% for the upcoming fiscal year beginning on July 1, from 5.9% in the outgoing year, following budgetary tightening aimed at winning International Monetary Fund (IMF) support, the government said on Saturday.

The planning ministry made the estimates ahead of the annual budget to be presented on June 10.

"Keeping in view external and local uncertain economic environment, GDP growth will slightly taper off and is envisaged at 5 percent for 2022-23 on the back of agriculture (3.9%), manufacturing (7.1%) and services sector (5.1%)," said the ministry in a working paper seen by Reuters.

The paper said the fiscal consolidation will be pursued to bring down the deficit through a combination of expenditure management and revenue enhancement.

Pakistan's foreign reserves have been on a steep decline in recent months - falling to $9.7 billion, less than 45 days of imports - and its double digit inflation and a widening current account deficit have put it in a tight spot.

Moody's has changed Pakistan's outlook to negative from stable.

Pakistan has been waiting for the IMF board to clear a seventh review to resume a $6 billion rescue package signed in 2019 after both sides concluded talks in Doha last month.

The paper said the fiscal deficit for the July-March portion of the outgoing fiscal year had widened to 4% of GDP, compared to 3% of GDP for the corresponding period last fiscal year.

The current account posted a deficit of $13.8 billion (3.5 % of GDP) in July-April of the outgoing financial year, it said.

Average inflation was recorded at 11.3% during July-May of the current fiscal year, as compared to 8.8% in the comparable period of the previous year.

The new government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif who took over from ousted premier Imran Khan in April says that it has inherited a dire economic crisis.

(Reporting by Asif Shahzad; Editing by Peter Graff)